When scientists found the remains of a tiny hominid on an Indonesian in 2004, they claimed they found a totally new species of human ancestor (homo floresiensis), and called it a Hobbit. Film crews rolled in and the little creature took the world by storm, but a group of prominent scientists, including Maciej Henneberg and Robert Eckhardt, smelled a rat. They refuted the data—the size and shape of bones, the inferences about height—and they raised fundamental questions about scientific method, revealing cultural and political pressures that lead to the wide acceptance of unsupported theories. The Hobbit Trap describes how the case against the “new species” theory developed and offers an important critique of the species concept in evolution. In this thoroughly updated second edition, the authors include new data and analysis of the Flores fossils, and expand their important analysis of scientific practice, calling for a new movement to reverse the decline in scientific standards and the rise in scientific politics. This lively and important challenge to conventional wisdom is accessible to the general reader and makes a stimulating addition to courses on the history and philosophy of science, evolution and physical anthropology.

chapter 1|27 pages

Reflecting on Origins

chapter 2|33 pages

Thinking Small

chapter 4|16 pages

A Lot to Chew Over

chapter 5|14 pages

Random Skulduggery

chapter 7|16 pages

The More Things Change

chapter 9|9 pages

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

chapter 10|11 pages

More of the Same

chapter 12|24 pages

The Debate That Isn't

chapter 13|6 pages

The Sum of the Parts